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USS Mahan (DD-364)
USS Mahan (DD-364)
USS Mahan (DD-364)
Career (US)
Namesake: Alfred Thayer Mahan
Builder: United Dry Docks Inc., Staten Island, New York
Laid down: 12 June 1934
Launched: 15 October 1935
Commissioned: 18 September 1936
Fate: Disabled by kamikazes; sunk by a US Destroyer on 7 December 1944.
General characteristics
Class & type: Mahan-class destroyer
Displacement: 1,500 tons
Length: 341 ft 3 in (104.0 m)
Beam: 35 ft 6 in(10.8 m)
Draft: 10 ft 7 in (4.0 m)
Propulsion: 2 General Electric steam turbines
4 Babcock & Wilcox boilers
46,000 shp (34 MW)
Speed: 37 knots (69 km/h)
Range: 6,940 nmi (12,850 km; 7,990 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph)
Complement: 158 (peacetime) officers & crew
Armament: As built:
5 x 5"(127mm)/38cal DP (5x1),
12 x 21" (533 mm) torpedo tubes (3x4),
4 x .50cal(12.7mm) MG AA (4x1),
2 x depth charge stern racks,

The second USS Mahan (DD-364) was the lead ship of the Mahan-class destroyers of the United States Navy. She was named for Rear Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan, a leading 19th century naval historian and strategic theorist. Mahan began her Navy service in 1936. She was first assigned to the Atlantic Fleet and then transferred to Pearl Harbor in 1937; spending the rest of her naval service in the Pacific.

Mahan was at sea with Task Force 12 when the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. Their mission to Midway Island was aborted to participate in the initial post-attack efforts in search of the enemy strike force. Unable to locate them, the task force returned to Pearl Harbor.

Early in World War II, Mahan played a role in carrying out raids on the Marshall Islands and Gilbert Islands. In the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, Admirals Chester Nimitz and William Halsey commended the destroyer group (of which Mahan was a member) for a stellar effort in screening the carriers Hornet and Enterprise against heavy odds. In the campaign to retake New Guinea’s northeast coast from the Japanese, Mahan took part in the amphibious landings at Salamaua, Lae, and Finschhafen. She participated in the landings at Arawe and Borgen Bay (near Cape Gloucester), New Britain, and provided support for the landing of troops at Los Negros Island in the Admiralty Islands. In the latter stages of the war in the Pacific, the Japanese kamikaze was relentless in plaguing the operations of the US Navy. On 7 December 1944, a Kamikaze squadron overwhelmed Mahan at Ormoc Bay, Leyte, in the Philippine Islands. Mahan was disabled by the Kamikaze attack, abandoned and sunk by a US desroyer.


Mahan displaced 1,500 long tons (1,500 t) at standard load and 1,725 long tons (1,753 t) at deep load. The ship’s overall length was 341 feet 3 inches (104.0 m), the beam was 35 feet 6 inches (10.8 m), and her draft was 10 feet 7 inches (3.2 m). She was powered by General Electric geared steam turbines, driving two shafts that developed the total of 46,000 shaft horsepower (34,000 kW) for a maximum speed of 37 knots (69 km/h; 43 mph). Her four Babcock and Wilcox water-tube boilers generated the super-heated steam needed for the turbines. Mahan carried a maximum of 523 long tons (531 t) of fuel oil, giving her a range of 6,940 nautical miles (12,850 km; 7,990 mi) at 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph). Her peacetime complement was 158 officers and enlisted men.[1] The wartime complement increased to approximately 250 officers and enlisted men.[2]

Mahan and class had the tripod foremast and the pole mainmast. To improve the anti-aircraft field of fire, the tripod foremast was constructed without nautical rigging.[3] Their silhouette was similar to the larger Porter class, whose construction immediately preceded them.[4] The Mahans were fitted with the first emergency diesel generators, which replaced storage batteries of earlier classes. Gun crew shelters were built for the superimposed weapons fore and aft. A third quadruple set of torpedo tubes were added, so that one mount was on the centerline and two in the side positions. This required relocating one 5"/38 caliber gun to the after deckhouse. The class incorporated a new generation of land-based propulsion machinery, which was simpler and more efficient to operate.[3]


Mahan at Mare Island Naval Shipyard for overhaul in June 1944.

The main battery of Mahan consisted of five 5"/38 caliber guns, equipped with the MK 33 gun fire control system.[1] The 5"/38 caliber guns were dual purpose guns: configured for both surface and aircraft targets.[5] Her anti-aircraft battery had four water-cooled .50 caliber machine guns.[6] Mahan was fitted with three, quadruple torpedo tube mounts for twelve-21 inch torpedoes, guided by the MK 27 torpedo fire-control system.[1] The ship's stern was rigged with depth charge roll-off racks.[7]

In the spring of 1942, the Mahan-class destroyers began a wartime armament refitting process, yet most of the class was not fully refitted until sometime in 1944. Mahan, herself, was refitted in June 1944 at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard, but the extent of her refit is unknown.[8] The notable refits to the Mahan class included the removal of one 5"/38 gun; typically replaced with two twin Bofors 40 mm guns and five 20 mm Oerlikon guns. Ironically, early 1942 found two of the class with six Oerlikon guns, while some had four.[9]

Construction and service

Mahan was built by the United Dry Docks, Inc., successor to Morse Dry Dock and Repair Company, Staten Island, New York. Her keel was laid down on 12 June 1934; launched on 15 October 1935, and sponsored by Miss Kathleen H. Mahan, the admiral's great-granddaughter. The ship was commissioned on 18 September 1936, with Commander J. B. Waller in command.[10] Mahan shoved-off for the Caribbean and South American ports within two months after she was commissioned, combining her initial training and shakedown cruise with a goodwill tour. She remained in the Atlantic area until July 1937; then headed to the southern California coast for fleet training, before steaming to her new station at Pearl Harbor. When the Japanese struck Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Mahan was at sea with the carrier USS Lexington, three cruisers, and four destroyers as part of Task Force 12.[10] Lexington's mission was to ferry Marine aircraft to reinforce Midway Island.[11] After news of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the Task Force Commander received orders to terminate the ferry mission and directed to search for the Japanese ships. Unable to locate them, the task Force returned to Pearl Harbor on 12 December 1941.[10]

Mahan put to sea in late December with 103 Marines to reinforce the Marine detachment at Johnston Island (about 750 nautical miles (860 miles or 1,390 km) west of Hawaii), and evacuated 47 civilians to Hawaii the following month.[12] A convoy assignment took Mahan to Samoa, where she joined Task Force 17. It included the carrier Yorktown, two cruisers, and five destroyers. The Task Force carried out raids on Jaluit Atoll, Mili Atoll and Makin atoll (Butaritari) in the Marshall Islands and the Gilbert Islands.[13] By late February 1942 Mahan had moved on to Canton Island; temporarily assigned to offshore patrol duty.[14] By early April, Mahan was at sea with a convoy bound for San Pedro, California. From there, she steamed north to the Mare Island Naval Shipyard for overhaul, docking on 18 April 1942.[15]

South Dakota, Navy repair ship, Mahan, Lamson, after South Dakota-Mahan collision; occurring after the Battle of Santa Cruz Islands.

Mahan was back operating in the waters off Pearl Harbor in August 1942.[10] By Mid-October she had steamed out of Pearl Harbor as part of Task Force 16, with the carrier Enterprise, the battleship South Dakota, two cruisers, and seven destroyers. On 24 October they joined up with Task force 17, composed of the carrier Hornet, four cruisers, and six destroyers.[16] The two carrier groups formed Task Force 61, under the command of Rear Admiral Thomas C. Kinkaid and ordered to the Santa Cruz Islands; there able to strike the Japanese if they moved on Guadalcanal. The Task Force dropped anchor safely off the Santa Cruz Islands. On the morning of 26 October, Enterprise's search planes spotted the much larger Japanese carrier force and the epic Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands was set in motion. When the conflict subsided, the Navy had lost 74 aircraft, the carrier Hornet, and one destroyer, while Enterprise, South Dakota, one cruiser, and one destroyer had been damaged. The Japanese lost about a 100 aircraft, but their ship casualties were much less. Admirals Nimitz and Halsey expressed satisfaction with the battle Kinkaid’s force had put up against heavy odds. The destroyers in the Hornet and Enterprise screens were commended for a stellar effort. But while en route to Noumea, New Caledonia, a Japanese submarine contact caused the battleship South Dakota and the destroyer Mahan to change course and they collided. Both ships were seriously damaged.[17] Temporary repairs were made to Mahan at Noumea and she headed back to Pearl Harbor for a new bow.[10]

With her new bow, Mahan left Pearl Harbor on 9 January 1943 for the South Pacific. In the subsequent months, she escorted Convoys between New Hebrides and the Fiji Islands; performed patrol assignments off New Caledonia, and engaged in operations in Australian waters.[10] By August, her base of operations had become Milne Bay, New Guinea. It was one of two staging areas (Buna, Papua New Guinea, the other) for retaking the Japanese held northeast coast of New Guinea. The task began in August 1943, with plans laid to strike Lae, New Guinea. Two weeks before it took place, Mahan and three other US destroyers cleared-out the Lae approaches and the waters between Salamaua and Finschhafen; then bombarded the Japanese installations at Finschhafen. Early September the Lae Task Force, under Admiral Daniel E. Barbey, left Milne Bay for Lae with 8,000 Australian troops. By the evening of 4 September, the landing of the troops was completed. By 11 September, Salamaua was in control of the allies, and Lae was taken by 16 September. Mahan along with other US destroyers had provided the cover for the amphibious landings.[18] Vanquished at Lae, the Japanese pulled back to Finschhafen—the place chosen for the next attack on New Guinea by the American-Australian offensive. Scheduled for 22 September, the assault force, under Admiral Barbey, left Buna, New Guinea, 21 September escorted by US destroyers; stopping at Lae to pick up an Australian infantry brigade. Additional US destroyers were attached to the force, but had preceded the convoy to the rendezvous point. On 22 September, before daylight, the amphibious force stormed the beach at Finschhafen and by noon all the troops were ashore. As the destroyers were withdrawing from the area, ten enemy torpedo planes winged across the water and targeted Mahan and five other US destroyers. Returning fire, the destroyers shot down eight of the ten planes and two fled the area. By 2 October, Finschhafen, New Guinea, was in the hands of the allies.[18]

On 14 December 1943 the amphibious force, led by Admiral Barbey, mustered at Buna, New Guinea, in preparation for the landing at Arawe, New Britain. With it was the bombardment group composed of Mahan and four other US destroyers. Setting sail on the 14th, the force dropped anchor off Arawe early the following morning. Mahan and her sister ships bombarded the Japanese shore defenses at the main landing point. The shelling from the 5"/38 guns and the bazooka-fired rockets sent the enemy into retreat. At mid-morning, the beachhead had been secured. Christmas Day of 1943 found Mahan steaming with the amphibious force, under Admiral Barbey, en route to Borgen Bay, near Cape Gloucester, New Britain. The entry to Borgen Bay held barriers of risk in its uncharted waters. Destroyers Mahan and Flusser were picked to sound out the channel and mark the way. They moved cautiously through the channel, while two minesweepers laid buoys in their wake. The amphibious force shadowed the buoys, and weaved their way through the cumbersome passage. On the morning of the 26th, the Marines landed on the beach without opposition. Later that afternoon, the Japanese struck forcibly but the Marines could not be dislodged.[19] In late February Mahan was in action with the Seventh Fleet, supporting the landing of troops at Los Negros Island in the Admiralty Islands. The ships in support of the landing came under heavy fire, yet the troops made it ashore despite the conditions. Three weeks later, the Japanese forces at Los Negros were defeated.[20]

In the spring of 1944, after extended wartime duty in the Pacific, the veteran destroyer was ordered to California for overhaul: mooring again at the Mare Island Naval Shipyard. Mahan left the yard in early July for Pearl Harbor, and took part in exercises there until 15 August. She returned to New Guinea on 20 October, via Eniwetok, Jaluit, Guam, Saipan, and Ulithi, and began escorting convoys between Hollandia (Jayapura) and Leyte. By the end of November 1944, Mahan was doing anti-submarine patrol assignments off Leyte in the Philippine, Islands.[10]


The fate of Mahan was set in motion in November 1944, when bad weather and hostile terrain bogged down the ground campaign to seize Leyte from the Japanese. The chief impediment to retaking all of Leyte was the Japanese ability to reinforce and resupply its headquarters at Ormoc City, on the west side of Leyte, and the Americans' inability to counter this advantage.[21] Thus, the unavoidable decision was made to attack Ormoc by amphibious means.[22]

Mahan at Mare Island Naval shipyard in 1944, before returning to the South Pacific to perish.

On the morning of 7 December 1944, three years to the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, troops of the 77th Infantry Division landed south of Ormoc City. At the same time, Mahan was patrolling the channel between Leyte and Ponson Island.[23] The amphibious strike by the infantry met with little opposition, but nine Japanese bombers and four escort fighters converged on Mahan.[24] In Kamikaze (1997), Raymond Lamont-Brown wrote: “Observers were to record of this, one of the most unusual and devastating of kamikaze assaults of 1944, that the Japanese aircraft used torpedo-launching tactics, but when they had been hit ... they switched to kamikaze attacks, diving on Mahan ...”[25] During the assault, US Army fighters downed three Japanese aircraft and damaged two more; Mahan blew four out of the sky but took three direct kamikaze hits.[24] In At War With The Wind (2008), David Sears observed: ..."the most calamitous a direct hit to the superstructure near the No. 2 gun."[26] Awash in flames and explosions, Commander E. G. Campbell, the skipper, turned Mahan toward the picket line as the last hope of salvaging his ship. With that gone, he gave the order to abandon ship. Destroyers Lamson and Walke rescued the survivors: one officer and five men were missing and thirteen seriously wounded or burned. Mahan had met her Waterloo at the Battle of Ormoc Bay and was sent to the bottom by a US Destroyer.[27][28][29]


Commander E.G. Campbell, the skipper of Mahan, had this to say about the performance of his officers and men:

"The strain of standing there and battling back as one after another of the bombers came roaring in was terrific. Even so, not a single man jumped overboard to escape what at times looked like inevitable death ... The fact that four of the nine planes were shot down, that no one abandoned ship until the word was given, that the entire engineering force stayed at their stations throughout the action, in spite of no information ... that the damage control parties continued to function ... that gun captains shifted to local control when the main-battery director was disabled, and that the ship was abandoned in an orderly manner, all testify to the high state of discipline and courage displayed by the entire crew."[30]


Mahan received five battle stars for her World War II service.[10]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Friedman p. 465
  2. Roscoe p. 20
  3. 3.0 3.1 Friedman p. 88
  4. Reilly p.28
  5. Friedman p 88
  6. Hodges and Friedman p. 111
  7. Friedman p. 86
  8. Hodges and Friedman p. 145
  9. Reilly p. 73
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 10.7 "Mahan". Naval History & Heritage Command. Retrieved 7January 2013. 
  11. Rohwer and Hummelchen p. 104
  12. Chapter 1, pp. 2-3
  13. Rohwer and Hummelchen p. 119
  14. Chapter 1, pp. 6-8
  15. Chapter 1, p. 9
  16. Rohwer and Hummelchen p. 171
  17. Roscoe pp. 185-188
  18. 18.0 18.1 Roscoe pp. 256-259
  19. Roscoe pp. 267-269
  20. Roscoe pp. 404-405
  21. Roscoe p. 443
  22. Roscoe p. 444
  23. Lamont-Brown P. 73-74
  24. 24.0 24.1 Roscoe p. 445
  25. Lamont-Brown p. 74
  26. Sears p. 212
  27. Lamont-Brown p. 73
  28. Sears pp. 212-213
  29. Roscoe P. 445
  30. Roscoe P. 446


  • Lamont-Brown, Raymond (2000). Kamikaze. London: Cassell Military Paperbacks. ISBN 0-304-35200-4. 
  • Roscoe, Theodore (1953). United States Destroyer Operations In World War II. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-726-7. 
  • Sears, David (2008). At War with the Wind. New York: Kensington Publishing Corporation. ISBN 978-0-8065-2893-9. 
  • Friedman, Norman (1982). U.S. Destroyers. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-733-X. 
  • Reilly, John (1983). United States Navy Destroyers of World War II. Poole, Dorset, England: Blandford Press. ISBN 0-7137-1026-8. 
  • Miller, David (2001). The Illustrated Directory of Warships from 1860 to the Present. Osceola,WI: MBI Publishing Company. ISBN 0-7603-1127-7. 
  • Hodges, Peter & Friedman, Norman (year not indicated). Destroyer Weapons of World War 2. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0870219294. 
  • This article incorporates text from the public domain Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. The entry can be found here.
  • Fleshman, Paul. "Chapter 1" (pdf). Retrieved 15 February 2013. 
  • Rohwer, Jurgen; Gerhard Hummelchen (1992). Chronology Of The War At Sea 1939-1945 (Second ed.). Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 1-55750-105-X. 

External links

Coordinates: 10°50′N 124°30′E / 10.833°N 124.5°E / 10.833; 124.5

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